Originally posted by Heroic Metool
I think the main reason online ratings are "unreal", or at least inaccurate, is the fact that most of the time you are allowed to choose your opponents.
Well, there are many more reasons and here are a few I just brainstormed:
- one can choose opponent, color, time control, rating range, interface and abort after first few moves if undesirable opening
- timezones differ and so you may be playing some insomniac at 4:00 am in his German underwear while you're fully alert at 10:00 am
- computer problems like lag, disconnections and mouse slips change some results
- the environment is not the same and one may be in a quiet room conducive to concentration while another might be in a busy Starbucks or in a position where the game must be put on hold due to family or business
- most online chess is blitz and is thus inherently not serious chess so many play it when not feeling well, to the point of excess or in an otherwise poor form
- performance is often not the goal in online chess but instead it is to refine openings, get a vast experience with different positions, try new ideas, and just have fun (online chess is the homework and OTB chess as the test)
- opponent cannot be seen and may be using books (allowed on many sites), having another player play instead or using an engine
- rating systems differ and are not comparable at uChess, Yahoo! Chess, ICC, Pogo, FICS, Playchess.com, instantchess.com, chess.com, redhotpawn.com, etc.
- there are definitely no possibilities for a chess title based on online performance and ratings are not officially recognized
- OTB is chess strength while online chess only correlates (kind of like how well you rally in practice tennis matches will correlate with your skill and performance in tournaments but only the performance in tournaments defines your skill)
- playing regularly in OTB tournaments costs much more than online chess (attracting more ambitious players) and the fact that tournaments actually have prizes contributes to the competitiveness
BTW: Mad Rook I didn't mean to beat you up over it, I just wanted to comment.